From a post-college dream to $702k sales in one day
Welcome back to this week's breakdown of the My Biggest Lessons podcast! This week on the pod, Sean Riley — co-founder and Chief Executive Dude of DUDE Wipes — joined Chris Meade to chat about his biggest lessons growing his multi-million dollar brand from the ground up. Check out this week's episode below! ⤵
What do you get when a group of college-aged dudes living fast-paced lives are surviving on a beer and burrito diet? The need for something a little more effective than your normal roll of toilet paper. 🧻
Sean had his roommates hooked when they swapped out dry 2-ply for baby wipes. But are powder-scented, classic baby wipes ideal for a group of 20 year old guys? Sean and his friends took this issue into their own hands and their vision of a new, cooler brand was born: DUDE Wipes.
With an entrepreneurial drive and an appetite for failure, Sean and his co-founders dove into building their new flushable wipes brand, all while holding full-time jobs. Sean was the first to quit and go all-in on DUDE Wipes when they were invited to an incubator in Austin for 3 months to learn all things CPG — something none of the co-founders had expertise on.
About 6 or so months after their learning stint in Austin, DUDE Wipes began to blow up on Amazon. From there, Sean and his team built up their reputation, found themselves stocked in major retailers, and even landed a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, all within the span of 2 years.
Entering a saturated market with a new, innovative product is a risky move that can come with a lot of failures. Without these hard lessons, Sean and his team wouldn't have been able to grow DUDE Wipes into the multi-million dollar brand it is today. If you’re itching to learn more about Sean's biggest lessons, keep reading!
Swimming with Sharks 🦈
With 2 years of business under their belts, Sean and his team started gaining traction and found themselves shaking hands with the sharks on Shark Tank. Thanks to an enticing pitch, they landed a deal with the one and only Mark Cuban. Their appearance on the show brought DUDE Wipes notoriety, opportunities, brand awareness, and an important lesson on what to do as a new brand with large investors.
For Sean, it comes down to 2 steps — something he always recommends to new entrepreneurs when their business is growing:
- Invest everything you can into inventory
- Reinvest those profits into marketing and growth
Investing what you can into your inventory will help your business scale up quicker, and reinvesting those profits back into marketing and growth will assist in long-term, sustainable growth.
Prepping for Prime Day 📦
One of the biggest days in the ecommerce world for the past 7 years happens to historically fall in the month of July and is known as the biggest global shopping event of the year — Amazon Prime Day.
As Amazon was their first big sales channel, Sean and his team spent their time looking at trends — everything from past Prime Day sales, to bundles that do well, and any other relevant stats. With a good team to analyze the data, and a product they can keep on hand to prepare for big events such as Prime Day, DUDE Wipes were able to prepare inventory for over $700,000 in sales in just one day.
Eyes on the prize 👀
Sean received a piece of advice from Mark Cuban that will always stick with him and how he operates his business: "Don't drown in opportunities.”. For Sean and DUDE Wipes, this meant focusing on the channels they knew were working, and doubling the velocity there.
Keeping their focus on their top 5 to 10 channels, they've been able to create big brand and retailer partnerships — one of their most recent ones being with NASCAR driver Anthony Alfredo, who promoted DUDE Wipes being available in Wal-Mart, one of their top sales channels.
Another key thing to focus on, and a lesson Sean shares, is your ROAS strategy. For DUDE Wipes, this meant spending less on social and ad content geared around buying directly from them, as they know that most of their customers would much rather buy their product in a retail setting, and more time spent on their Amazon strategy.
No regrets 🙅
Since starting DUDE Wipes in 2013, there hasn't been a single failure or mistake that Sean regrets. One lesson he likes to share with new entrepreneurs is what he learned from a failed launch. DUDE Wipes launched a deodorant product, but quickly took it out of their product line after realizing it was more distracting than beneficial, as it didn't align with their brand. This wasn't a regret for Sean though, as it taught him and his team what works and what doesn't for their company, a sentiment that Mark Cuban shared with Sean after the failed product launch.
As a new entrepreneur or business owner, it's important to make mistakes in the beginning and turn them into lessons that you can take to further grow your brand and succeed in the future.
Want to learn more about ecommerce growth through the personal trials and obstacles of industry professionals? Subscribe to the My Biggest Lessons podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to podcasts.